Perspectives on a Family Literacy Program: Voices of Participants
Better Beginnings is a family literacy program, developed by the State Library of Western Australia, designed to provide positive literacy influences for children in their first three years of life. It is part of the Western Australian Government’s Early Years Strategy, aimed at improving outcomes for young children. The program, which is being implemented in communities in across Western Australia over three years, involves families, community child health professionals and local librarians. The pilot program was evaluated in two diverse communities, over a period of a year. This paper examines Better Beginnings from the perspectives of the parent and professional participants in order to identify elements that appear to add to or detract from the intended program outcomes. Responses from mothers and professionals suggest that overall the program was well-designed, carefully coordinated and delivered and well received by parents. However, a number of issues were identified that have important implications for the future of Better Beginnings and other programs of this type. These include involving non-traditional library users in the program in ways that are appropriate and affirming and sustaining the program through extended inter-agency collaboration and community involvement and ownership.
Keywords: Family Literacy Program, Early Literacy, Family and Community Partnerships, Program Outcomes, Interagency Collaboration
Prof Caroline Barratt-Pugh
Senior Lecturer Language and Literacy, School of Education, Edith Cowan University
Principal Research Fellow, Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia